‘We’re not there yet,’ says PM on re-opening of churches

(Photo: Unsplash/Andrew Seaman)

The Prime Minister has resisted pressure to re-open churches before July. 

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson revealed concerns about the rate of infection going up if places of worship open to the public right away. 

He was asked about the re-opening of places of worship by Jane Hunt, Conservative MP for Loughborough, who said she had been contacted by church leaders in her constituency about access to their buildings “both for services and to help to tackle homelessness”. 

In reply, the Prime Minister said: “I very much understand the urgency that many people in this country feel about the need to reopen places of worship.

“It is a tough one: every time we do something like this, we push up the risk of infection and the risk of pushing up the R again.”

He added: “We are not there yet. We are getting there, but we are not yet there. It is vital that the people of this country understand the continued need to push down on the infection rate.” 

The Government has said that places of worship must remain closed until July 4 at the earliest, but this has been criticised by some leaders as restrictions on other places, like shops, markets and car showrooms continue to ease. 

On Pentecost Sunday, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said it was time for the phased re-opening of churches. 

A day earlier, a coalition of church leaders including the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, wrote to the Government calling for a review of the closures. 

A poll released this week by the National Churches Trust found broad public support for the re-opening of places of worship, with half of UK adults (49%) agreeing that churches and chapels should be allowed to open their doors to the public sooner than July if they can ensure adequate social distancing, compared to only a third (32%) who disagreed.

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